TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning to everyone and welcome to another edition of your quickly-typed-but-deeply-felt liveblog of the terrible Sunday morning political chat shows. My name is Jason, and the government shutdown is dead! Long live the government shutdown!

Yes, it has been decided that we shall, for a time, have at least the outward veneer of functionality, and even scare up a mess of Congresscritters to hash out a budget, all the while skipping merrily toward another set of grim deadlines and dire consequences that a few legislators, hopped up on some bad brown acid, would prefer to breach and impose because they've decided that the bog-standard system of trade-offs and compromises are real live "tyranny."

On top of all of that, a major initiative to provide millions of Americans with the health insurance they need to stay alive and out of debilitating debt now depends on a website that has deep and difficult-to-resolve problems, like the ones that my therapist is always telling me about, only they involved the screen going all "OH SORRY WE HAVE TO STOP HERE FOR THE TIME BEING, OMG WHAT? HA HA, SRSLY IT WILL BE OKAY JUST COME BACK TOMORROW." And then you click "OK" to save where you are to come back tomorrow and the screen switches to something that says, "ffffffffxxxxxxxxxxxzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzkkkkkkkkkkkkk" and you are like, "Okay! I will hope for the best!"

Obviously, the state websites are working better and that's good news and a real lesson of why you should, if possible, move to state where the state government is filled with real live civil servants who actually want to establish a functional set of government services that work and make people happy, as opposed to states that are run by freaked out clowns and ghouls from your local haunted forest or cursed cemetery.

In the meanwhile, the Federal version of the Affordable Care Act website, which exists because too many states are run by the aforementioned ghoul-clowns, now depends on Federal IT contractors and the American customer service industry. If I could pick any two groups of people to do any important thing with me, those two groups would be way way way, super way, down my list, just above "carnies" and "people who have obvious tells when they try to bluff at poker" and "9/11 truthers." But you go to war with the army you have, I guess.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that between now and the next statutory deadlines for government shutdowns and debt ceiling raises, there are a lot of fun and terrible twists in the road, and it could all end in tears! So you have that going for you. For now, please feel free to let me watch these shows so you don't have to. As always, you may converse in the comments, drop me a line if you need to, follow me on Twitter if you can bear it, and click over to my Rebel Mouse page for some Sunday Reads if you get bored waiting for me to put new typing in here.


Well, Marco Rubio, after doing a lot of keeping his head down, is here today to offer the exclusive Marco Rubio version of what just happened in the past three weeks. Then Senators Dick Durbin and Roy Blunt will yell at each other about the upcoming budget conference, and a panel of blather.

But first, here's Marco Rubio. He voted against reopening the government in the end, so Wallace wants to know if that was a dumb political gesture, or if he just thinks government shutdowns are awesome. "I was never in favor of shutting down the government or in defunding the government. I was in favor of voting to fund the government fully," says the guy who didn't actually vote for any of the bills that would fund the government fully, because what he wanted to vote for is a bill that defunded, and later, delayed Obamacare, which is what the House kept passing, only to watch as the Senate transformed them from weird gimmicks to bills that would actually keep the government open.

Funny thing is, Rubio was one of the people who endorsed the strategy of shutting down the government. Here's what he said about just a few months ago:

RUBIO: There has to be some issue at which we say look, this is the issue where we draw the line. I mean, we understand about all the other things but there’s an issue where you’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say this is it, I mean, on this issue we’re willing to fight no matter what the consequences, politically or otherwise [are]. If that issue is not Obamacare, I can’t understand what issue it would be. …Of all the issues out there, if there was one issue that we should be willing to go to the limit on, this is it.

And some conservatives thought he was being cray-cray:

Now think about that statement: “on this issue we’re willing to fight no matter what the consequences, politically or otherwise.” Really, now? Conservatives should engage in a fight regardless of what the consequences are? Even if the consequences prove to be a set back in the efforts against the Affordable Care Act and, more broadly, the conservative cause? Even if in the real-world ObamaCare can’t be defunded and, in an effort to indulge that particular fantasy, significant political damage would be incurred by the failure? That hardly sounds like a conservative disposition to me.

Remember: The Affordable Care Act won’t be defunded unless and until the president and the Senate agree to it. If both sides dig in, if there’s a showdown and the federal government is closed down, the Affordable Care Act will not be defunded. Shutting down the government is within the power of the House of Representatives–but defunding the ACA would require the House, the Senate, and the president to sign new legislation into law. So the Rubio & Co. strategy hinges on an obvious fiction–that Barack Obama and the Senate will agree to pull the plug on his signature (and historic) domestic achievement. Short of that, ObamaCare lives on.

So, I guess what Rubio has set the stage for is more of this vintage, "We're not the ones who wanted to shut down the government, Harry Reid is the one who wanted to do that." Which is all well in good when you are in the time and space before a public judgment has been rendered. That was the argument that was made from the outset, and nobody bought it, because it was transparent bullroar. Why keep trying to advance an ancient spin argument after you've lost? That's very "Iraqi Information Minister."

Rubio notes that the Obamacare implementation has been a disaster, which is true! It would have probably been better for you to not distract everyone from that with your weird carnival of shutting down the government and then protesting your own government shutdown.

Rubio imagines that there are, "lessons to be learned from the past three weeks" that can be applied. The obvious one is the one that Mitch McConnell has taken away from the experience, which is, "Government shutdowns are stupid and we should never ever do that again." Wallace asks Rubio if he's learned that much from the experience, and Rubio's still dug in, in his trench in Candyland, "I never wanted a government shutdown!"

Wallace asks about the Senate Conservatives Fund decision to support McConnell's primary opponent, and whether or not Rubio will support McConnell's re-election. Rubio says he will, because "at the end of the day he's done a good job leading the Republican caucus, and that's not always an easy thing to do." Right! Because one of the people McConnell has to manage is Marco Rubio!

Rubio says that while he's not a "fan of immediate calls to replace" people, he maybe wants Obama to fire Kathleen Sebellius? You know, because Obamacare. And there's a lengthy monologue that demonstrates why it's important to EXECUTE big programs correctly, because when you don't execute things well, it gives critics broad leeway to attack and question and raise skepticism of the underlying idea.

Wallace sort of groks that Rubio is probably attacking the health exchange model, without any evidence, and gives a bit of brushback question. Rubio, smartly, reverts to where he has solid footing -- the fact that the website's implementation has been shot for the past three weeks, and sooner or later you need time, both in cyberspace and in meatspace, to literally do the work of signing people up for insurance, which involves a lot of guided shopping beforehand. And there is a real, legitimate fear that the program won't get there.

Rubio says that "setting up a website where people can go on and buy something" should be simple. True enough! Man, if health insurance was something I could make out of yarn and sell on Etsy, I'd have solved this problem by now!

Of course, setting up a website where people can buy something and also have the purchase subsidized, so that the poor people who this whole endeavor is intended to help not die, based on data from several government agencies is harder. And that's literally where this whole thing is ganking -- the multitude of bottlenecks that occur when the system tries to access different agency databases. And it's a big enough mess that you should probably worry that they don't pull off fixing it. (Though I think that I might be turning into the panic-skid a little too hard.)

Of coursel, it's also really hard setting up a website where people can go and buy something when there is a powerful political movement based on stopping you from setting up that website. I mean, I'm sure that Travelocity would have been a real difficult endeavor if the Tea Party opposed it to the point where they'd furlough government workers in an attempt to stop it. Where there wasn't crazy opposition to set up a website and sell a thing, there are websites set up, selling things. In Oregon, they've cut the number of uninsured people in the state by ten percent in two weeks.

Wallace asks if Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) is right when he says that it would be crazy for the GOP to continue trying to negotiate with the White House to pass immigration reform. Rubio says that he's still in favor of passing immigration reform, but it's hard to trust a White House that, you know, dropped that huge tyranny bomb when they delayed the employer mandate of the ACA. That was, like, super duper Staliny, and now, who is to say what might happen? Maybe everyone's tricked into passing an immigration reform bill that turns immigrants into some sort of yummy butter? It would be irresponsible for Rubio to NOT wonder out loud about what the voices in the haunted mirror are telling him!

How does Rubio feel about all the people who call the plan that Rubio supports "amnesty?" Rubio says that there are 2016 polls that suggest he's been hurt by his position, but that he didn't get into the comprehensive immigration game because he was thinking about the 2016 election. Rubio is always forced by reporters to view his every political decision through the prism of a future presidential run he's not indicated he wants to even undertake, and he's rightly pretty sick of this.

Now it's time for the bitter budget battle with Dick Durbin and Roy Blunt.

Blunt says that despite the differences between the House and Senate budgets are vast, there is an opportunity to make a deal. That said, he definitely wants to retain the sequestration, which is nuts, because the sequestration is designed to cause every a lot of pain. There is likely a better way to get down to that level of spending, if you've no other choice but to be that austere, budget-wise. (And austerity budgets aren't working ANYWHERE.)

Durbin notes that the sequester is "clumsy and ham-handed," and there has to be a better way to get to those spending levels.

Wallace does that thing where you ask a guy what he would cut from the budget and the guy dodges the question. In this case, it's Durbin, who will leave all that to Patty Murray. (As it happens, Durbin is not one of the Senate's budget conferees.)

Durbin says he doesn't understand why the Republicans have dug in so hard against revenues, because surely there are tax loopholes that could be closed that would generate revenue. There are, but at this point, I am pretty sure that even Obama supports "revenue neutral tax reform," where you close the loopholes, but figure out a way to keep the government from taking advantage of the new revenue stream. "Revenue neutral tax reform" remains just as intelligent as "cake neutral baking."

So Wallace asks if revenue is a total non-starter. Blunt says that no one is opposed to closing tax loopholes, but guess what, it has to be...wait for it...revenue-neutral.

Durbin and Blunt fall out over appropriations bills, Blunt saying that the Democrats never even attempting to pass one, Durbin pointing out that it was the GOP that prevented a transportation bill from getting passed, and we are really wandering into the arcane weeds here, and Wallace, sensing this, pulls back to the original question.

Which is, why can't the Democrats support short-term spending in exchange for long-term cuts to earned benefits programs, and the answer is, no one parts with a thousand dollars in exchange for a dime.

Blunt says that it's likely that Sebellius will be compelled to testify before a Senate committee. Blunt is also pretty admirably "real-talk" about the current problems with the Affordable Care Act -- the website's problems are embarrassing from the standpoint of execution and implementation, but he acknowledges that on the matter of the health care exchange model itself, he and Durbin are making different bets on whether it can work or not, because both men have different premises. (I think that the GOP should simply take the bet that Obamacare fails, reap the reward of being right or live with the consequences of maybe being wrong, and stop threatening the world with default. That's the smarter play.

Sebellius will eventually testify, Durbin says, so chill. Okay! Durbin goes that the Obamacare rollout is going -- well, not fine, exactly? -- but he resolutely tries to accentuate the positive, and the "positive" in this instance is that LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE COMING TO THE WEBSITE (to discover that it doesn't work). This is what pro-Obamacare people should NOT do: spin a success story out of this swamp of glitch. They should be candid, contrite, and provide precise information about what is broken, what is being done to fix it, and how long the fix will take.

The ACA websites are a prime example of how important it is to take responsibility and own your own cock-ups, quickly and cheerfully and publicly. It's hard and it sucks, and no one enjoys swallowing a mistake, but these are the proving grounds on which you establish credibility.

I keep going back to this one section of Neil Barofsky's book, BAILOUT:

During her interview, Kris opened our conversation dramatically, saying, "I should tell you right off the bat, if you're looking for the traditional type of press officer, you shouldn't hire me."
"What does that even mean?" I asked.

She responded that in most governmental agencies, it is often expected that the press officer will spin, shade, or even hide any facts that might put the agency in a negative light.

"The number one goal of most agencies is, frankly, to try and make the principal [Washington-speak for the head of the agency] look good, no matter what the actual facts are, even if it means lying to or misleading the press," she explained. "I won't do that. I won't lie for you. I won't compromise my integrity, and I won't compromise this office's integrity." She had my full attention.


"So what would your strategy be?" I asked.
"We'll be completely transparent with the press," Kris responded, correctly presuming that she already had the job. "We'll admit and even highlight our mistakes."

"Okay. I understand the not lying, but my guess is that as a start-up, we're going to have more than our fair share of screwups. Why would we want to bring them to the press's attention?" I asked, intrigued.

"Because if we do, we'll earn the press's trust. They'll know we're not spinning like everyone else. SIGTARP will quickly become the only credible source for information in Washington about TARP. We might be embarrassed at times and disclose things that we could -- and others would -- easily hide, but we'll shock the press with our honesty. No one else does this, and before long, we'll have a built in defense when we're attacked. No matter what they hear, the press will come to us first and believe us, because we'll prove to them that we tell the truth."

Okay so it's now time to panel with Brit Hume and Julie Pace and George Will and Charles Lane.

Hume says that now that the shutdown is over, the Obamacare website is going to garner a lot of attention, and that it's an open question as to whether or not enough people successfully enroll in the exchanges. Pace says that the White House is really worried about the websites, and that the President is expected to make a "mea culpa" on Monday. Which is the right thing to do! Will, of course, thinks that the health care system was just awesome to begin with, and he's pretty sure that everything he's been told about rate shock is true.

Lane says that the "fundamental problem" is that people could end up getting fined for "failing to sign up for something that it is impossible to sign up for." That is the real issue here. I don't necessarily think that the model is going to fail in the way that Hume and Will think it will, but the essential Thing That Cannot Happen is that people cannot be fined for something that they tried in good faith to sign up for.

Of course, when Hume says that Obama should have taken the year delay in the individual mandate he was offered, he is being disingenuous, because that wasn't an "offer" it was a trap. At the end of that year, no matter what had gone on with the sites, the GOP would be itching for further delays, defunds, and repeals. Hume reckons that if Obama has to delay, it will make the GOP's posture look better, but it won't look better in the light of this previous shutdown fight, it will look better because Obamacare is sputtering. No one is getting a "second-look" for being pro-shutdown.

Is the White House in a win-win situation, for their agenda, for the rest of the year, because of the shutdown? No. They are not. But let's allow the panel to weigh on. Hume says that it's not realistic and that the GOP is in a strong position on some budgetary matters. (They are -- and the fact that this is so makes shutting down the government look REALLY ASININE, n'est-ce pas?)

Pace follows on Hume's point that the agenda has gotten very modest, in light of what the original ambitions were, for the second term. Will reckons that the pain from the sequestration is asymmetrical -- Democrats hate it more than Republicans and so the GOP is happy to leave it in place. Will also says that the GOP would be really excited to negotiate on a farm bill, because it gives them a chance to make further food stamp cuts and stick it to residents of blue states California and Oregon and Nevada. I don't see a lot of motivation there that's animated by policy outcomes there! But yeah, hurting Americans for fun and profit is, I guess, alive and well.

Will reckons that Boehner and McConnell will do a lot better job pushing back on the weirder members of their caucus in the future, so that we aren't at the brink of crises all the time. Hume reckons that now that we shift to budget talks, the GOP will finally be doing something they've famously failed to do -- enunciate alternatives and policy ideas of their own. Will says that the GOP is delighted to no longer have to even fight against Obamacare -- which sort of makes you wonder why the government shutdown was necessary, if not fighting Obamacare is so "delightful." Methinks George is doing some pro-jec-tion.

Oh, let's move on to something unrestrained and crazy!


Yes, this is the week where I just watch in awe as five people sputter and yelp on this set from the late 1970s.

I don't even know if they shoot this in HD! I reckon they don't, because wouldn't I be screaming in terror right now if they did?

As is McLaughlin's wont, there is a package of news clips preceding the discussion. There is one clip in which Mitch McConnell describes sequestration as a historic achievement that must be protected. LOL. Remember when that was the #obamaquester? The worst thing in the world that Congress had nothing to do with, it was all the President's idea? Yeah, LOL, consistency, it is the unobtainium of American politics.

Actually I'm pretty sure that Mitch McConnell still calls it the #Obamaquester every time a constituent who's been hurt by it complains to him about it.

Anyway! McLaughlin wants to know if we're going to just go through all this mess around January, and the answer is probably, because why not, but I'll let the guests yell at each other, too.

Tim Carney says that the horse-trading really is going to begin on the budget, and that Ted Cruz's hymnal is being passed around for everyone sing from, but the sticking point remains whether or not the GOP would be willing to give the Democrats any genuine concessions...and if that's still an open question then, sorry, no, "horse trading" has not yet begun. Carney reckons, however, that there is a way past the impasse.

Eleanor Clift reckons that everyone is "rising up" against those Tea Party backbenchers, including the establishment legislators, the business community, and Wall Street types. She then goes on to say a bunch of stuff that seems to be contradictory? But her bottom line is that maybe the GOP "won't ever try this tactic again." I'm already a little confused.

David Rennie, a Warby Parker model from England, is here as well. My God. He says that we've spent "an entire fruitless year of squabbling" but my GOD I CANNOT STOP STARING AT THIS MAN'S HUGE HEAD. It's gigantic.

Sensing this, the camera flits back to Rennie during Mort Zuckerman's spiel, and I renew my fascination. IT IS A HUGE NOGGIN, IS WHAT I'M SAYING.

Is everything in politics being terrible and awful and no good and broken all the time essentially, the new normal? Carney says it is, because technology! And Super PACS! And unlimited monies from crackpot weirdos! Rank and file Senators used to have to actually care about what leadership said about things, because that's how they got re-elected, but now they can all act like totally freaked out zombie werewolves.

Clift says that the president had to "stare down" the crazies to keep the "new normal" from getting totally worse.

Zuckerman says that Obama hasn't invited enough Republicans over for dinner, without remarking on the fact that, for instace, the House caucus actually BANNED John Boehner from calling up Obama to negotiate. (Clift reminds everyone, gently, that it was the GOP that withdrew from all the reindeer games that would have promoted "bispartisan bonding."

Zuckerman insists that the President has "refused to negotiate with Boehner." He and Boehner actually REACHED A BUDGET DEAL, DUDE. It was Boehner's House colleagues that stabbed the Tan Man in the back.

McLaughlin asks the Warby Parker model how "this plays in Peoria," and guess what? THE GUY WAS ACTUALLY JUST IN PEORIA! That's amazing! Spoiler alert: It is not playing well in Peoria! It is a "pox on both your houses" in Peoria. But the people of Peoria were, I'm sure, delighted to visited by The Man With The Giant Head.

How likely is it that there will be a repeat of the government shutdown, on a scale of zero to one hundred, in which one hundred equals "ultra metaphysical certitude?" Carney says 22. Clift says 11. Warby Parker Big Head says 30. Zuckerman says it's "under ten percent." McLaughlin says 10.

I tell you what, when the correct answer turns out to be 19, I will be holding all of these entitled beltway toffeefaces accountable!

Warby Parker Big Head says that international esteem for America is really downgraded, and that everyone should remember that Obama was supposed to be on an important trip to Asia when the government closed and he was forced to remain here to manage the psychodrama.

Clift says that the crux of all the conflict has been the fact that Obama keeps putting things that liberals hate on the table, but never gets any revenue in return for the offer. Once that happens, there is a real possibility for a deal.

"We have a government that works primarily under presidential leadership," says Zuckerman, incorrectly. He goes on to complain that presidential leadership "was completely absent during this crisis." Well, that's because it was a crisis within the Republican party. Democrats were largely reduced to being the disturbed spectator of the GOP's third-rate psychodrama. And while there have been lots of really stupid ideas advanced about the magic leadership qualities of the President, surely no one really believes that it is the responsibility of a DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT to LEAD a REPUBLICAN CAUCUS to the resolution of their own INTERNAL BULLSHIT? I mean, who wants to be precisely that crazy, along with old Mortie, here?

There is a lot of yelling, and Clift is like "BISHHHHHH PLS" and Carney is snarking out the farm bill, and Clift reminds everyone that Boehner has been "kowtowing" to a small portion of the caucus that won't let him talk to Obama, and McLaughlin wants to make it sound like Boehner is off the hook because he represents a small district in Ohio, and Clift is like, "WHAT? HE IS THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE," and Zuckerman says HOW DARE YOU COMPARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE WHY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE IS A COMMON PAUPER, GOOD DAY TO YOU, and I just want to see Captain Big Head Of Her Majesty's Navy talk again, but he's too polite.

They yell and yell and the show is over. What clownshow is next?


Martha Raddatz is here, because "George Stephanopoulos went on a pills and vodka bender last night and is still unable to get his pants on." Kidding, he just has the day off because he is lazy or something. Anyway, she'll talk to Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, also, for some reason. And there will be some paneling, and no one's problems will be resolved.

First off, we talk a bit about Hillary Clinton doing an event for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. If you haven't heard, here in Virginia we are having a gubernatorial election between Loathing (McAuliffe) and Terror (Ken Cuccinelli), who are two men that will probably burn the Commonwealth of Virginia, to the ground, through their staggering awfulness as humans, with Cuccinelli taking a slight edge in the awfulness by dint of the fact when he burns down the state of Virginia, the fire will have been started in every woman's ovaries.

Seriously, Virginia is in big big trouble. Raddatz looks at Clinton stumping in the VA-GOV race and says, "How can anyone see that and think that she is not running for President." I say, how can anyone see that and think that she is not effing crazy?

There is a colloquy between Raddatz and Jeff Zeleny and Jonathan Karl, in which she asks them a question and they say, "Wow that's a good question?" and "This will probably happen unless something else happens."

Okay so now Nancy Pelosi is here and Raddatz wants to know what responsibility she bears "to move Washington forward, to change the mood in Washington, to make the American people proud again." Pelosi says that she joins "Americans in their disgust" and calls the tactic "unthinkable." She goes on an extended jag about how ridiculous it is for House Republicans to have blocked the efforts to meet in a budget conference, when everyone else was a good sport about meeting, whether they liked the budget level or not.

But what will she do to make a difference so that this doesn't happen the next time? Not sure that's an apt question for someone who doesn't really have a say in whether the House GOP keeps shutting the government down, but she answers, saying: "So we have to have facts as we go forward. We have to have common sense as we go forward. We have to go to the table understanding that we cannot shut down and we cannot place in doubt the full faith and credit of the United States of America. But we do have to recognize that among those on the Republican side are those who are anti-government ideologues and they cannot wag this dog. And they cannot wag this dog."

Moving to the terrible Affordable Care Act websites -- oh no, wait, Pelosi still wants to talk about the budget, okay: "What I'm proposing to our colleagues in the House and the Senate is let's not have this go until January, let us try to figure out until Thanksgiving, the end of November."

Okay, cool, no what about the Obamacare websites? Pelosi says that the problems are "unacceptable" and that they need to be fixed. But, she says, there were 19 million unique visits. Great! But let me tell you, there is going to be a mad rush in December where people really come try to get signed up for this. I mean right now, woooo, unique views. A lot of those people are looky-loos and reporters and people who are curious, but only a small proportion are going at it in a high-impact way.

These glitches have nothing to do with high volume, and everything to do with the fact that it's trying to make sense of data from a number of different sources and is having problems resolving a bunch of bottlenecks. But, again, if you want to see massive volume -- wait till December. And I'd wager that 75% of the people who want to sign up for insurance will make their first real attempt on the last quarter of the timeline you've given them to do it. That's when you get glitches in meatspace -- as there are only a finite number of humans working to help people and a finite number of hours in which to do it.

There are two sets of problems going on with these websites. One is a set of POLITICAL problems. The other is a set of PRACTICAL problems. The POLITICAL ones are the ones that feel so painful right now. But they are the easy part. The PRACTICAL PROBLEMS aren't actually that bad right now, but everyday they go unresolved, their potential gets worse and worse. I can foresee a situation in late December where we look back on the rollout of as the halcyon days of the program.

But high web traffic volume is not the problem, full stop. Obamacare proponents REALLY NEED TO STOP SAYING THIS.

Pelosi thinks that it would be great if Hillary Clinton would run for President, and that she's sorry that former House Speaker Tom Foley has passed away, and that he was a "gentleman" under whom it was an honor to serve. Pelosi also gets in a mention of Florida Republican Representative Bill Young, who also passed away this week, and offers his family her condolences as well.

Now Jonathan Karl is here to do his "GOP Civil War" interviews with Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, who we are led to believe are of two minds on many matters.

First Cruz, who really thinks that the government shutdown "elevated the public debate," by furloughing workers and making it harder for the CDC to manage outbreaks and also some coal miners died.

Karl tells Cruz, "People hated this shutdown. They hated this impasse, and this was seen as the 'Ted Cruz Shutdown.' You, more than any single individual was seen as the one that triggered this crisis to begin with." Cruz is all, "Yeah a lot of politicians and media people tried to call it that." I guess this is sort of a surprise to him, that the guy who actually raised all that money as the face of the government shutdown be tagged as the face of the government shutdown. Like Rubio, earlier today, Cruz is still limply spinning: "I said throughout this we shouldn't have a shutdown, I don't want a shutdown, I repeatedly voted to open the government..."

He and Karl argue about this:

KARL: But then there never would have been a shutdown if you hadn't gone with this strategy of saying, 'we're not going to even fund the government for six weeks--


CRUZ: And you know what, Jon? There never would have been a shutdown if Harry Reid and President Obama hadn't said, 'We will not compromise. We will not negotiate. Shut the government down.'

LOL, Karl asks Cruz: "How much do your colleagues just despise you right now on the floor?" He indicates that lots of Republicans have been calling out Cruz, albeit privately, because we are still mostly talking about gutless wonders, here. Cruz says that he doesn't need "99 new friends" and that "given the choice between being reviled in Washington, DC, and appreciated in Texas, or reviled in Texas and appreciated in Washington, I would take the former 100 out of 100 times."

And Mort Zuckerman complains that Obama doesn't have good enough relationships with people. Here is a guy expressly stating that his goal is to have bad relationships with his fellow lawmakers! (But he didn't want a shut-down, no no!)

Karl points out that Cruz recently said that the problem is that conservatives keep bombing their own troops, and Cruz takes the opportunity to complain that "you saw multiple members of the Senate Republicans going on television attacking House conservatives." It's worth pointing out that CRUZ DID THIS TOO.

So, what's next, will there be another shutdown? Cruz says, "I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare." So, to translate from the original Saskatchewanese, yes, Cruz will attempt to shut down the government again, and again try to pretend that he never attempted to shut down the government.

Next up, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, presumed to be a 2016 contender from his party's semi-rational wing. He tells Karl that yes, the shutdown cost the GOP some ground "from the political point of view." Karl seems to have rejected Cruz's whole point of view on this: "This started with Republicans mostly in the House saying that they wanted to gut Obamacare and they were willing to not fund the government until that happened."

Bush says that this was a tactical mistake to embark on trying to achieve something that was impossible to achieve. Bush subscribes to what I call the "Take the Obamacare bet" approach. By which I mean: the GOP is pretty convinced that Obamacare will be a total disaster. They've certainly gotten a little boost, watching the website flail. But if they think that, why interrupt it? If they successfully rip healthcare out of people's hands, they'll be known as the party that stopped people from getting healthcare. Whereas if they let it flop its own, then they'll be running against Democrats for three election cycles who supported Obamacare, and they'll be known as the party that tried to warn everyone it wouldn't work.

Now, of course, the problem the GOP faces is that Obamacare could still be a huge success! In which case they lose the bet and pay the price. But it's always better to at least have the courage of your convictions, and constantly saying that Obamacare won't work while simultaneously making it obvious that your worst fear is that it WILL WORK, is the worst of all stances to take.

So take the bet, that it will succeed or fail. I hate the raw politics, because I want everyone in America to have access to affordable health care so that people don't die or go into debilitating debt. But, if we're just talking about the raw politics of winning and losing, I say bet on an outcome and if you're wrong, pay the price -- while reaping the rewards if you are right. It is, at the very least, a more fair and rational way to proceed, as compared to breaching the effing debt ceiling.

Bush is a "take the bet" type: " I would argue that allowing Obamacare to be implemented, two things would happen. One, it would be so dysfunctional it is was implemented faithfully that it would be clear for more people; or it would -- it couldn't be implemented because the government's not capable of doing it. It looks like that, the latter rather than the former, may be happening. But that was all crowded out by a miscalculation of using something that shouldn't be used, the debt ceiling limit and continuation of the budget."

Karl asks Bush if he finds the people who say we don't need to raise the debt ceiling to be weird and strange. Bush is politic about it, saying thet "you have to pay your obligations" and anything other than that is "not grounded in reality." Then he reverts back to "I am running for President according to Bush family traditions" talk and says, basically, that Washington needs compromisers and communicators.

Karl relates Cruz's remarks, that he'll saddle up again for another run at Armageddon to end Obamacare, and Jeb says:

Well, frankly, I think the best way to repeal ObamaCare is to have an alternative; we never hear the alternative. We could do this in a much lower cost with improved quality based on our principles, free market principles, And two, show how ObamaCare, flawed to its core, doesn't work. So have a little bit of self-restraint. It might actually be a politically -- a better approach to see the massive dysfunction. But we don't even hear about that because we've stepped on that message. And I think Republicans need to just take a step back and allow -- show a little self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically.


Jeb met Hillary at a thing and it was so shiny, wasn't it shiny, wasn't it wasn't it? Bush says it was fun and civil and friendly and not a big deal. He says that public distaste for Washington won't be something that keeps him from running for President, if he does so. And the fact that we've already had a bunch of Bushes as president won't be a factor either. But "it's not the right time to be thinking about that."

There is some talk of No Child Left Behind. Bush credits it for "jumpstarting" reform and insists it served a "useful purpose." There is some further wishy-washy talk about education policy. Bush is for "higher standards," like almost every educator is, but is vague about how we get there, probably because "lots of standardized tests" have replaced "making sound pedagogical judgments" as policy. Bush says the curriculae need diversity and innovation, but it doesn't sound like he knows how to get there, either. In fairness, it's not like a Sunday Morning chat show allows for deep exploration of issues. We are just checking off boxes.

Suffice it to say that Jeb is able to talk in the vernacular of several schools of thought on school reform, without committing himself to a single one of them.

An ABC reporter talks to a bunch of idiots who think that shutdown was a success. They love the shutdown because "spending needs to stop" and "we have to pay our bills." It is pointed out that the shutdown actually negatively impacted both the government's bottom line and hurt a lot of people. BUT THE MONUMENTS BLAH! It seems that they only noticed the monuments and parks. Ted Cruz is a "hero" because "Obamacare," and the "grassroots" are behind Cruz, because of "feelings." They "love America" and they are sick of all of you people who hate America, I guess?

Okay, well, here to make potentially less sense are Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Mary.), Peter Baker from the New York Times, and ABC News' Matthew Dowd.

Kinzinger gives good GOP Civil War! "We're seeing conservatism in essence being redefined in this country. And it's not being redefined by Ted Cruz, it's being redefined by some of these outside groups, your Heritage Action, your Club for Growth, your Freedom Works. And you have a small group in congress that has become the surrender caucus."

Edwards thinks it's "sad" that so many members of the Republican caucus are in favor of shutdowns and debt ceiling breaches.

Dowd says that "the problem is that average Americans sit out there and say the federal government is not meeting my hopes, dreams and needs." And that "establishment Republicans represent the status quo which gives source and oxygen to this movement out there of people that say, enough's enough, if you're going to do it the wrong way, then just as soon shut the government down."

Baker says that "that this is not George W. Bush's Republican Party right now. It's not what he would have wanted" and that he's "concerned" about the Tea Party movement and the growing isolationist strain in the conservative hinterlands. Dowd says that these aren't new fissures, and explains that they actually worked to cover them over and keep everything contained when they ran Bush's campaign.

Kinzinger says that "the President of the United States is the only one, whether he's Democrat or Republican that can really lead a country together and give a vision," but he forgets to explain precisely by what means a Democratic president walks in to a meeting of the GOP's House caucus and resolves the differences between John Boehner and the Tea Party rump so that they function together.

He also fails to explain WHY OBAMA SHOULD WANT TO DO THIS. I mean, WHY ON EARTH would Obama want to bring unity to the Republican party. "Hey, guys, I really feel like I need to help you become more effective opponents of my agenda." What are Democratic voters to make of a President that did that?

Some discussion of Obamacare. Dowd says, "I always said, listen it is the law of the land. The Supreme Court said it is the law of the land. Elections said it is the law of the land, and I always said, the test of this will be in the implementation. The problem for the president and the Democrats in this is the implementation has been disastrous."

Sounds about right?

Will the government shutdown again?

EDWARDS: Well it better not.

KINZINGER: No I don't think so. And I just want to add we need to start finding win-wins between Republicans and Democrats here.

DOWD: I think it's going to shut down again. It may not be for two weeks. The basic problem hasn't been fixed.

BAKER: I think that's possible. I think Republicans don't want it to happen again. I think that they learned that that wasn't necessarily a good thing. But there's no permanent fix at the moment.

2016 anyone? Baker says that Jeb Bush will bear the weight of Bush fatigue a lot heavier than he deserves to, given his overall policy chops. Dowd says that he really doesn't think a Clinton or a Bush can inspire the notion that a new way of politics is possible. Edwards thinks that Clinton would be a super awesome candidate. Kinzinger thinks that Bush would be a super awesome candidate.

Edwards says, "I think we have a number of people who can step to the national stage." (Ehhhhhhhhhh.)

Dowd says, "I think there's no heir apparent in the Republican party, which hasn't happened in years." (Ehhhhhhhhhhhh.)

I think I'll take my skeptical "Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh's" as a sign that it's time to bounce. If you are in Washington, DC tonight, celebrate your life by seeing you friends from the Dismemberment Plan at the 9:30 Club, which may still have tickets available, from what I hear?

Have a nice week!

[The Sunday Morning Liveblog returns on October 27, 2013. Until then, visit my Rebel Mouse page, there will be fun things to read there!]